Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

2 in 3 Hiring Managers Bin CVs Over Poor Formatting

Carried out in April and May 2024, the survey polled 625 UK hiring managers to uncover their expectations of job seekers on CVs and cover letters, including topics such as formatting, specific CV sections, skills, and red flags.

  • New survey reveals opinions and attitudes from UK hiring managers in 2024
  • Unprofessional CV formatting, use of AI-generated content, and lack of cover letters among top concerns

CV Genius, a leading career resources platform, released findings from its 2024 CV & Cover Letter Trends Survey aimed at mapping the best practices for UK job applications in 2024. 

Carried out in April and May 2024, the survey polled 625 UK hiring managers to uncover their expectations of job seekers on CVs and cover letters, including topics such as formatting, specific CV sections, skills, and red flags.

The hiring manager insights revealed that:

  • 65% turn down poorly formatted CVs 
  • 80% don't trust AI-generated content
  • 49% would consider an underqualified candidate with a strong cover letter
  • 71% consider teamwork or problem solving skills one of the three most important soft skills for candidates to have

'Given the current state of the UK job market, hiring managers are directing increased scrutiny at every job application. It's therefore crucial that candidates know to make the right first impression on employers.' said Seb Morgan, Lead Career Expert at CV Genius.

'What's fascinating about this survey is it tracked how hiring managers' attitudes differ between generations, industries, company size, and in-house versus agency recruiter, which has allowed us to paint a precise picture of current hiring trends.’    

CV review times are much longer than previously assumed 

One of the most widely reported statistics about CVs is that it only takes a recruiter 7 seconds to decide whether to reject a job application. However, according to our survey, hiring managers spend an average of 2 minutes and 17 seconds reviewing a CV before deciding whether to offer the candidate an interview.

  • 31% spend over 3 minutes on each CV
  • 26% spend 2–3 minutes on each CV

Two thirds of hiring managers reject job applications over formatting mistakes  

While reading, hiring managers pay close attention to how CVs are laid out and presented.

  • 65% of respondents revealed they would be less likely to hire an applicant whose CV was poorly formatted.
  • 11% say poor formatting is an immediate dealbreaker
  • Millennial and Gen Z hiring managers are 125% more likely to overlook poor formatting than Boomer and Gen X hiring managers
  • 63% of respondents believe that poor formatting reflects an applicant’s lack of effort

Most hiring managers dislike AI-generated content — and know when you're using it

Overwhelmingly, 80% of hiring managers said they view the use of AI-generated content on CVs and cover letters negatively.

  • 57% say that they are less likely to hire a candidate who uses AI
  • 74% of hiring managers say it's possible to tell when AI is used to write a job application

'Many hiring managers perceive generative AI as a bit of a shortcut. You're supposed to be telling me about your strengths, experience, and interest in my organisation. If nothing is written in your own words, should I really take your commitment to the job seriously?' said Samuel Johns, Senior Career Counsellor and Recruiting Manager at CV Genius.

Baby Boomer, Gen X are significantly more critical of job-hopping

Baby Boomer and Gen X hiring managers are 61% more likely than their Millennial and Gen Z counterparts to view frequent job changes as a red flag.

  • Gen X hiring managers are 58% more likely than Millennials to consider job hopping an immediate dealbreaker
  • Gen Z and Millennials are 30% more likely to say that a long gap between jobs wouldn’t influence their hiring decisions decision at all

Teamwork and problem-solving are the most valuable soft skills

When asked to choose the top three most valuable skills at their organisation, 48% of hiring managers chose teamwork, while 40% chose problem-solving and critical thinking.

  • Other important skills included verbal communication (37%), time management (36%), and adaptability (34%)
  • Gen Z respondents are most likely to choose problem-solving and critical thinking
  • 70% of Baby Boomer and 57% of Gen X hiring managers list teamwork as one of the most valuable soft skills
  • 40% of Baby Boomers and 41% of Gen X hiring managers list adaptability among their top three most valuable soft skills

Cover letters influential in most hiring decisions

Despite debate about the usefulness of cover letters, over half of hiring managers in the CV Genius Survey (57%) said that cover letters are influential or extremely influential in their hiring decisions, while 15% of respondents said they have little to no impact.

  • 49% say they would consider an underqualified applicant if they submitted a highly persuasive cover letter
  • 85% of hiring managers find cover letters impactful compared to 15% who say they have 'little' or 'no impact'
  • 56% of hiring managers think candidates who submit cover letters are more passionate about the job
  • 61% say cover letters help them understand an applicant’s soft skills

'Cover letters are always worth the effort. They add depth to a job application, providing a window into the candidate's career goals, personality, and qualitative strengths,' said Geoffrey Scott, Senior Career Counsellor and Hiring Manager at CV Genius.

To read the full report, visit or contact Ethan David Lee at


This survey was conducted by CV Genius in collaboration with Pollfish. The study sought to gain insights into the impact of CV evaluation, interviews, and skills assessments on hiring decisions, as well as to identify the most valued candidate qualities among UK hiring managers. The survey was fielded online on April 22, 2024, and targeted a sample size of 625 participants. 

Demographic breakdown is as follows: Gender: female (45%), male (55%); Age Groups: Boomers (5%), Gen X (24%), Millennials (52%), Gen Z (19%); Company Size: Small (<50 employees) (33%), Medium (50-250 employees) (29%), Large (250+ employees) (26%) External recruiters (12%); Country: United Kingdom

About CV Genius

CV Genius is the go-to resource for UK job seekers of all industries and experience levels.

With an intuitive CV maker, a diverse collection of free industry-specific resources like cover letter examples and CV templates, as well as guides on how to write a perfect CV and cover letter. CV Genius has been featured in multiple renowned publications, such as the BBC,, MSN, Forbes, and Glassdoor.

CV Genius and its team of career advisors and HR specialists can help anyone make an effective job application and earn more interviews.